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It’s important to remember just how significant a role food and exercise play in determining workplace happiness and productivity. Here are some simple recommendations to improve productivity through nutrition and exercise, with little to no budgetKatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your employees are your biggest asset and keeping them happy helps reduce turnover and improve productivity. As a small business, however, you may not have the budget to keep them content.

A simple thank you gesture might be to bring breakfast into the office. After all, what better way to a person's heart than through their stomach? This typical breakfast spread likely includes muffins, bagels, croissants and danishes, or perhaps even a vanilla yogurt parfait station with granola.

The unfortunate fact is that this 'kind' gesture provides your employees with as much as three times their recommended daily sugar intake, all before they've checked their first e-mail. The result is a blood sugar roller coaster for the remainder of the day, leaving your staff feeling fatigued, unable to concentrate properly and more susceptible to stress.

It's important to remember just how significant a role food and exercise play in determining workplace happiness and productivity. As the founder of HEAL,  a company focused on corporate wellness, these are the simple recommendations I make to my corporate clients to improve productivity through nutrition and exercise, with little to no budget.

1. Bring the green smoothie to the workplace. High in protein and significantly lower in sugar than most regular breakfast foods, green smoothies are a great way to keep employees feeling energized. A workplace smoothie bar is a minimal investment that starts with purchasing a blender. Beyond that, ensure the freezer is stocked with a variety of fruit - berries and bananas work best – and pick up some fresh leafy greens for the fridge, along with avocados and flax seeds.

Regular upkeep of the ingredients should require no more than thirty minutes each week and the increased productivity of your employees will be well worth the time. If budget allows, there is also a growing number of smoothie and juice bars who will delivery pre-made drinks. Be sure to stick with the green, low sugar options.

2. Ditch the pizza lunches. The afternoon slump is an all too common workplace productivity suck, particularly on days where starch heavy foods such as pizza or pasta are provided. Instead, focus on providing at least two to three different salads with a basic protein like chicken or fish. The more colour on the plate, the lighter the lunch, making that 1 p.m. meeting a breeze instead of a struggle.

3. Have the healthy snacks on hand. According to this study, 2:55pm is the least productive time of day. It is also when you notice your employees reaching for the cookies and candy around the office to give their energy levels a boost. Offer them an alternative by stocking the office kitchen with hummus, vegetables, nuts and fresh fruit. With proper fuel to get through the afternoon you may find more employees finishing up daily tasks, as opposed to perusing Facebook.

4. Walking meetings. The average person sits for an hour and a half longer than they sleep each day. To mitigate this, a successful tactic employed by many Silicon Valley companies is the walking meeting. For any meeting that is four people or less, take the opportunity to get out of the boardroom and go for a walk. It has been proven to increase creative output, and by converting three one hour meetings to walking meetings, you'll add an average fifteen kilometres to your weekly exercise routine.

5. Hourly workout breaks. Another simple technique that can boost morale and trim the waistline is hourly workout breaks. Best for smaller, open-concept offices, every hour on the hour the responsible person leads a two minute exercise session. Each hour is a different exercise or muscle group. For example, jumping jacks at 9 a.m., crunches at 10 a.m., squats at 11 a.m. and so the day goes. Depending on the culture of the office, adding music to the routine can really get the energy levels up.

If you're still not convinced, try out these tips for yourself. You may be surprised with just how good you feel and how productive you are. Now, multiply that by the number of employees in your company and consider the possibilities.

Mandy King, CNP, BCom, is a corporate cubicle dweller turned nutritionist. After conquering her own health struggles, Mandy launched the health and wellness company HEAL, where she educates company's employees on how to use food for optimum energy and disease prevention. Mandy also offers personalized one on one nutrition. You can follow her on Facebook here and Instagram here.

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